Video Games – The Next Art Form (a teen perspective)
Throughout history there is a pattern relevant to the creation of new ideas. The cycle goes a little something like this. The new thought is formed and it is then dispensed to the masses. These people then decide to accept it, criticize it, or even persecute the new creation (or creator). In many cases the older generation may reject the new thinking, yet if the younger generation accepts the idea, it may well be introduced into the society. The new train of thought then begins to affect the society at its core, changing the way people live their lives. Once an idea is absorbed into the culture, new thoughts are likely to spring up, beginning the cycle anew.
Examples of such new thought patterns are Christianity, democracy, rock and roll, the printing press, television and computers. One of the youngest and most debated of the new technologies is video games. Video games are quickly becoming the highest grossing entertainment business in the Western world with sales of $18.58 billion in 2010 (cnbc.com).
Apart from the economic impact of video games, there is the argument that “video games are not art!” I want to challenge this idea by posing the question “what really is art?” Webster’s dictionary defines it as being “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Now the last time I checked video games were visual, they take creativity and imagination to both produce (and sometimes even play), and are looked at for their graphic and art beauty, and emotional power. Now not all video games live up to these standards, but neither do all plays, movies, or musical arrangements. Some works of art are made purely for the audience’s enjoyment, such as Oklahoma or a lot of the works of Monty Python. The video game equivalents to these “feel good” works include Call of Duty (which is one of the highest grossing video games ever) and the infamous World of Warcraft. These games do not have the deepest plots, nor do they make you question your choices in everyday life, but they’re just pure fun.
There are a few jewels to point out that I personally believe make some of the movie greats look shallow. First among them is Bioshock, a “smart shooter” set in the fictional 1960’s underwater art deco utopia-gone-bad Rapture. Bioshock literally throws the player head first into a world that forces them to use everything at their disposal to survive while simultaneously asking them to address topics such as insanity, drug abuse, guilt, dysfunctional relationships, betrayal, and a plot line that is as beautifully crafted as the Andrews Sister’s harmonies, which are used in the soundtrack in-game and relate to the story! The second on the list is a series titled Assassin’s Creed which is written by a collaboration of historians and writers of multiple religious, cultural, and spiritual beliefs. The setting ranges from a modern day Europe, a war-torn Holy Land in the Third Crusade, and a flourishing Renaissance-period Italy, all recreated in fine detail. Nearly every aspect of the series has a historical foundation from the protagonists you play as to the cities you roam. Last but not least on my list, which would be much greater if I was writing a longer article, is the Elder Scrolls series. What makes the Elder Scrolls so special is that Bethesda, the developers, have created an entire world from scratch, complete with a government, god and demons, ten different races, warring factions, and of course magic! Like all art forms you cannot truly experience the process unless you actually participate. That’s why so many people are drawn to video games because it gives them the ability to change the experience every time, unlike a movie experience.
If the pattern of new thought continues in the fashion that it has with so many other new thoughts before, then perhaps one day video games will become something entirely new and different.